MACARONI AND GOUDA CHEESE CASSEROLE
Tupelo Honey Cafe
by Elizabeth Sims and Chef Brian Sonoskus
Okay, so technically speaking, mac and cheese isn't actually a vegetable, but it's generally considered a vegetable side in the South. Vegetable or no, it's an important part of our Southern culinary vernacular. Just be aware this rich version will quickly become a favorite at your table, and you may never return to the standard mac and cheese in a box. It's also great on its own as an entree with an arugula and walnut salad and some fresh fruit.
Makes 8 to 12 servings
• 4 ounces Ritz Crackers
• 1 cup panko bread crumbs
• 1½ teaspoons sea salt
• 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
• 1 teaspoon olive oil
• 1 large sweet onion (such as Vidalia), diced
• 8 cups water
• 2 cups elbow macaroni
• 3 cups heavy cream
• 1½ cups shredded gouda cheese (about 8 ounces cheese)
• 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
• 1 tablespoon green hot pepper sauce
• 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly butter a 9 by 13-inch baking dish. In a food processor, pulse the crackers, bread crumbs, 1/2. teaspoon of the salt, and Vs. teaspoon of the pepper, until coarsely ground. Place the mixture in a large bowl and combine with the melted butter. Set the cracker mixture aside.
Heat the olive oil and the onion in a medium skillet over medium-high heat for 5 to 6 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Bring the water to a boil in a large stockpot and add 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Add the macaroni and cook over high heat for about 12 minutes, or until just tender or al dente. Drain the pasta and return to the stockpot. Add the onion, cream, gouda cheese, Worcestershire, hot pepper sauce, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook over high heat, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.
Sprinkle half of the bread crumb mixture evenly on the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Pour in the macaroni mixture and top with the remaining bread crumb mixture. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top and bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Turn the oven off and let the casserole rest inside for 5 minutes before serving.